American Water Spaniel Dog Breed Information

American Water Spaniel

The American Water Spaniel or AWS dog is a native to the lake country of the upper Midwest. It is a medium-sized muscular gundog, easily recognizable by its luscious brown colored fur which is little wavy or curled. It has a thick, waterproof coat and densely padded feet. The skull is of round shape with a long muzzle that ends with a dark brown nose. It has low hanging ears with fur, brown colored eyes, and a straight tail covered by the wrinkly hair.

Its body is small enough to jump in and out of a skiff without rocking the boat. They were famous for hunting dogs in the past, used for activities like retrieving prey from land and water. It is a purebred dog with charming and adorable looks. The dogs are intelligent, merry and versatile spaniel suitable for various dog sports. The AWS is an upbeat, outdoorsy dog with love for swimming and hunting. These dogs can be a bit suspicious towards strangers and a little stubborn.

American Water Spaniel Puppies

American Water Spaniel History and Development

The exact history about the origination of the American Water Spaniel remains unknown. Based on its appearance it is believed that it shares a genetic connection with the English Water Spaniel who was brought to the US long ago. English Water Spaniel is now an extinct breed; its depiction seems to be matching with the American counterpart.

European settlers who colonized in America had brought along the English Water Spaniel with them. They believed that their hunting pets would gather food for themselves and for the master’s families too.

By the end of 19th century, the dog was an established breed. This breed was the first one in the US that can retrieve from boats and can hunt too. These hardy spaniel dogs became excellent companion dogs and can take up retrieving job under any circumstances. Their small size comfortably fits them in any small boat.

A breed club was formed in the year 1881 for the very first time. Unluckily, the contemporary huntsmen began to look for a more specialized hunting dog over these small-sized, versatile pets. It led to a set back for these dogs, and their popularity started diminishing.  The situation became very grave, and these dogs were nearly on the verge of extinction.

The scenario took a positive turn in 1920 after a master breeder named Fred J. Pfeiffer, took it to the United Kennel Club to get it recognized. In 1940, Fred J. Pfeiffer got the dog recognized by the American Kennel Club. His fruitful efforts inspired other breeders and admirers to come forward for the common cause and saving the breed from getting extinct.

american water spaniel Quick Description

Also known as American Brown Spaniel, American Brown Water Spaniel
Nickname AWS
Coat Characteristics Solid-colored, Dense, Double, Curly
Colors Brown, Coffee, Chocolate, Tan, Liver
Type Sporting Dog (AKC), Hunting Dog, Working Dog, Gundog, Companion Dog, Terrier Dog, Watchdog
Life Span/Expectancy 10-12 years
Height (Size) Medium; 15-18 inches (adult male and female)
Weight Male: 30-45 pounds;
Female: 25-40 pounds
Personality Traits Brave, Loyal, Independent, Loving, Playful, Active
Good with Children Yes
Compatible with New Owners No
Barking Often
Shedding/Hair Loss Minimal
Drooling Moderate (some individuals)
Play-biting Moderate
Weight Gain Tendency Average
Climatic Compatibility Medium heat and cold tolerance
Litter Size 8 puppies/litter (average)
Hypoallergenic No
Availability Common
Country of Origin USA
Competitive Registration ACA, ACR, AKC, AWSC, APRI, CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), CKC (Continental Kennel Club), DRA, FCI, NAPR, NKC, UKC
Qualification Information Breed Standards
Clubs and Organizations The American Water Spaniel Club

American Water Spaniel Temperament and Behavior

The AWS is an intelligent breed clubbed with loyalty and affection. These dogs are mostly one master dog and share a great bonding with the person they love the most. The American Water Spaniel can be a bit territorial and show traits of possessiveness. It has a natural guard dog instinct. They are not hesitant in mingling up with the other members of the family which makes them a great companion and a family pet.

They are popular for their agility in retrieving (mainly gunshot ducks). It is a highly active dog and can do incredibly well with kids. Individual dogs might show a bit of aggressive and dominating behavior. These dogs are friendly with other pets and can be a little shy towards the dogs. These dogs are highly fascinated by water.

They love attention lovers and may resort to whining too for getting it. Some dogs might show independent nature, stubbornness and food jealousy.

Their hunting dog instinct makes them a bit territorial and protective about their family which qualifies them for an excellent watchdog.

American Water Spaniel Care


Homes with farmlands or large enclosed area are best suited for the American Water Spaniels. These dogs require extensive exercise for two hours daily. They very much enjoy regular jogging sessions and retrieving games like a frisbee. These water-loving dogs will love to spend time swimming in the pool or at the beachside.


The dog has a double layer coat. The outer layer is curly and oily. Brushing the dog weekly twice or thrice is sufficient. The coat becomes sparser in the summer season and can be brought in shaped with the help of a rubber-tipped pin brush. These water-loving dogs might hold moisture in their loosely hanging ears and takes time to dry out. You need to check its ears regularly for any signs of infection. Trim the American Water Spaniel‘s nails regularly.

Health Issues

The American Water Spaniels does not suffer from any major ailment is relatively hail and hearty dog. Few minor health problems like lenticular opacities and CHD can trouble them. In rare cases, individual dogs may suffer from PRS or patellar luxation. Conduct hip, ear and eye tests of these dogs regularly to detect any other symptoms of ailment in the dog.


These dogs are easily trainable and can quickly pick up the anything you try to teach them. They do well in those training sessions which has variations in it and are not monotonous.

Start the obedience training of your puppy right from the age of 2 to 3 months to control its dominant demeanor. Emphasize on teaching the dog commands like “SIT,” “COME” and ” STOP.” Make sure that the dog follows your command and reward him for responding to it appropriately.

These dogs have a tendency of food possessiveness. To restrict this behavior you must teach the dog that it is the pack leader who must eat first. Feed the dog only after finishing the meal and not at the time everyone is eating. Start practicing it right from the prime of its life. Start feeding the puppy with your hands from the bowl. In this way, you will be able to earn its trust in you, and the dog can relate to the scent of your hand. This practice will help the dog to learn that humans coming near its feeding bowl is not bad.

To prevent stubbornness caused by monotony, start the training of the dogs from its puppyhood and be sure that you keep variations in your method. Do not punish the dog or it will lead to increase in training anxiety in the dog and gradually making it obstinate.

The AWS has a habit to roam which makes their leash training is significant.  Leash train the dog right from its puppyhood and make sure it is comfortable with the leash on taking it outdoor.

American Water Spaniel Diet regimen/Feeding

Feed the dog high-energy dry kibbles divided in 2½ to 3½ cups into equal portions for their daily meals.

American Water Spaniel Interesting Facts

The American Water Spaniel is the state dog of Wisconsin.

Among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, this breed is ranked 143rd.

Afore of getting recognized from AKC, these dogs were solely a working gun dog.

The American Water Spaniel got the Flyball Championship title in 1993.

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